This summer, BrewLife celebrated the successful completion of its first hospitality engagement with the grand opening of Hotel Zephyr, a one-of-a-kind hotel property in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. BrewLife collaborated with Zephyr’s management organization, Davidson Hotels & Resorts, for a little over a year to create this fresh, irreverent and standout hospitality brand.

BrewLife kicked off our engagement by using our proprietary social analytics to understand the interests and behaviors of both visitors to San Francisco as well as global travelers who have indicated a preference for visiting boutique hotels. Results from this analysis helped shape customer personas as well as key elements of the brand and guest experience.

Identity design came next, with our talented designers creating a playful and colorful logo for the property that both represents the hotel’s cargo ship design narrative and its centerpiece amenity, “The Yard, ” a 10,000 square foot adult playground. Your standard hotel logo this is not.

Zephyr Logo

With our baseline look and feel established, BrewLife moved on to creative campaign development. Also diverting from the usual, the property’s launch creative campaign, entitled “Twisted”, challenges preconceptions about what constitutes an upscale hotel stay through hotel scenes and characters that have surprising twists related to the Zephyr story. From a bellhop with a fishtail sticking out of a suitcase to a prim and proper maid with a raucous sailor tattoo on her arm, it’s apparent that things at Hotel Zephyr are just a bit different. The creative campaign has made an appearance on Hotel Zephyr’s website and across collateral.

In the months leading up to the hotel’s launch, BrewLife’s PR team worked to raise awareness of the property, engaging national and local travel journalists and influencers through press releases and trend pitches. At project wrap-up, our team had secured over 50 placements, including features in the digital or print editions of Travel+Leisure, The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Business Times and Hotel Chatter. These placements garnered a cumulative 45 million media impressions.

At BrewLife we often talk about the fact that our clients outside the healthcare space provide a fertile experimentation ground that allows us to explore tactics and technologies that might be a few years away from mass adoption by our biotech, medical device and digital health clients. Hotel Zephyr has certainly been one of those projects.

Visiting San Francisco sometime soon? Book a room at the Hotel Zephyr at

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There is one universal fact when it comes to hosting a party: no matter how well you decorate or where the music is playing, everyone inevitably ends up standing in the kitchen. The draw of the kitchen is like gravity, an inescapable force that brings everyone together for a shared experience and a shared conversation. So, how do companies capture that same effect? How do they engage their community and share in a lively conversation? At BrewLife, we partner with companies to bring this concept to life. Every brand will have its own definition of success (Who is in the kitchen? What are they talking about?) as well as its own approach, but really the underlying process is the same.

First things first, you need a kitchen.

The kitchen represents your company’s platform, where you want to bring people together. And it shouldn’t just be a single location. In this digital and social age, a company’s platform may consist of interlinking social channels, an unbranded awareness website, a corporate blog, and several other touchpoints. The point is that these elements must be coordinated, easily findable, and simple to navigate.

Start the conversation.

As people start to trickle into the kitchen, it’s important to engage them in conversation before they get bored and wander back off. To pique and keep their interest, your platform needs to be populated with content that is relevant to your audience. Serving steak to vegans isn’t going to get you very far and neither will using highly scientific terms and complex concepts while talking to a non-expert, patient audience. It is vital for you to know who your guests are and what matters to them so you can continually steer the conversation to what is most interesting and timely.

Work the room.

While parties are a great place to meet people, it’s easy to fall into familiar patterns and only talk to the people you arrived with. A good host needs to work the room, introduce people with common interests and make connections. Similarly, a company must always keep an eye out to expand their conversation and introduce new voices. This can be posting the CEO’s perspective on an industry issue on the corporate blog, creating a documentary to shed light on a little-known condition to help share personal stories and unite the community, or as simple as helping connect a patient with a reporter to share the real-life impact a disease can have. While the company may be coordinating these efforts, the community is always what remains at the center of the experience. The goal is not to have the company dictate all communication, but to connect people with one another and help them engage in conversations that matter. This isn’t just a two-way dialog, but a lively and passionate conversation between a dozen people crowded around the cheese plate.

Remember, it’s never goodbye.

In this analogy, at some point the party must end and your guests will head home. But if the party was a success, your guests will have exchanged numbers or maybe they are heading out somewhere else to continue the conversation. This means that strong connections have been made and the dialog will continue beyond what is being driven by the company. But, keep in mind that interest can wane over time so it is critical to never say goodbye to your guests. Always have a plan to see them again, to evolve the conversation, and remain aware of their changing interests and needs. And always be thinking and planning for the  future, it’s easier to make plans to see someone next while they are standing in front of you rather than waiting until they are gone and playing phone tag to re-connect. A strong engagement plan is well-thought out in advance with specific touchpoints. It doesn’t always have to be a big bash, but remember to at least send a text now and then to stay in touch.

And if you get a new recipe, or remodel the kitchen, be sure to throw another party!

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A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a few BrewLife clients who were exhibiting at the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetrics (ACOG) conference, one of the largest conferences for women’s health professionals.

Acessa TMWhile at ACOG, I caught up with Halt Medical, the company behind the Acessa Procedure, a safe, effective and minimally invasive procedure that’s seeking to replace hysterectomy as the standard of care for fibroid treatment. Many women prefer to avoid hysterectomy because it’s a significant surgery with long recovery times and a track record of post-procedure complications.

BrewLife began workiAcessa1ng with Halt Medical over a year ago to ready the Acessa brand for a two-market test campaign focused on raising awareness of the procedure among women with uterine fibroids. This included developing strategic positioning and messaging, a creative campaign, a new website, and marketing collateral in both digital and print formats.

Starting at the beginning of 2015, BrewLife’s “A Woman’s Story” campaign has rolled out across a variety of marketing channels in the two markets, and despite the campaign’s young age, there has already been an uptick in the number of procedures being performed.

“A Woman’s Story” highlights the physical and emotional toll that fibroid symptoms, and the decision to seek treatment, take on women. Told through the first person, “A Women’s Story” focuses on a particular woman, her struggle living with a specific fibroid symptom and the positive impact Acessa has had on her quality of life post-treatment. The friendly and empathetic tone, colorful infographic style and use of stylish avatars instead of generic stock photography sets Acessa apart from any other campaign currently in the market in this therapeutic area.

Acessa2The campaign rollout encompassed an integrated array of tactical components including:

  • Website Development
  • Testimonial Videos
  • Patient Directed Materials
    • Print Advertisements
    • Digital Advertising
    • Social Media
    • Print Marketing Collateral
  • Physician Directed Materials
    • Print Advertising
    • Print Marketing Collateral
    • Trade Show Graphics
    • Practice Development Materials

At ACOG, I was proud to be associated with clients doing such important and innovative work in women’s health and to see our marketing materials drawing a crowd to Halt’s busy booth.

In addition, the Acessa Procedure was recently featured on The Doctors, to learn more about the procedure, click here.

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Rare Disease Day 2015

As a W2O company, BrewLife undoubtedly has adopted the commitment to a true network of care, healthcare that is. While we certainly serve a breadth of clients, we pride ourselves on supporting the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries. It is these industries and our clients that make days like February 28, 2015 all the more special. To many it is just another day, but to us, Rare Disease Day® is an opportunity to show our solidarity and support to the network we directly effect.

Rare Disease Day raises awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. Launched by EURORDIS and its Council of National Alliances in 2008, the campaign has become a progressive phenomenon recognized by as many as 84 countries.

Rare Disease Day LogoJoin us and become a friend of Rare Disease Day by completing the form here and utilizing your social channels and/or website to raise awareness. There are no costs involved, just your time and effort. #MakeItHappen by using the hashtag #RareDisease and take a look at three ways you can get involved:

  1. Post Your Event – Whether you’re an individual or an organization viewing this post you can get involved. Post your event using this form on the Rare Disease Day official website.
  2. Raise and Join Hands – This symbolic gesture can be done before the Day or on it to show solidarity with rare disease patients around the world. Record the action and upload it to the Rare Disease Day website here.
  3. Tell Your Story – Whether you are living with rare disease or caring for a loved one or friend who has one, we want to know your story. Upload a photo, video or written story here.

Pledge your support and make your mark on Rare Disease Day, February 28, 2015. For more information, visit Together we can put rare diseases in the spotlight!

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Super Bowl Ad Review


The Super Bowl audience is 46% female according to Nielsen data, and something like 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women—so you’d think that advertisers paying around $4.5 million to run a 30-second spot, would have figured out long ago that they’d want to appeal to us. Or, at the very least, not alienate. Well, the message may finally have gotten through.

This year’s ads were more inclusive than in the past, likely in large part because of the NFL’s terrible year as regards to scandal, abuse and sexism. Brands advertising in the Super Bowl were particularly sensitive to not seeming to endorse any of that bad behavior. (The NFL donated airtime for a gripping “No More” PSA addressing domestic violence.)

Super Bowl tweetsMany female creative directors, including myself, participated in a live Super Bowl Tweetup organized by The 3% Conference using the hashtags #3percentsb, #mediawelike and #notbuyingit. (The 3% Conference, founded by Kat Gordon & Rebecca Rivera, builds the case for more female representation in advertising leadership.)

The general consensus seemed to be satisfaction that there were only a few egregiously offensive ads. (Yes, we’re talking to you Carl’s Jr.) There weren’t many ads where women were portrayed as half-dressed eye candy (Ahem, Victoria’s Secret.) Even GoDaddy was a non-offender with an understated ad that made its point. There were noticeable efforts toward more equal representation of men and women (WeatherTech showed women working as equals next to men), challenging of clichéd gender stereotypes long outdated by real life (Dove’s Men+Care), more multiculturality and inclusivity (Toyota and Microsoft featured a Paralympic athlete and an active little boy with prosthetics. Dodge featured older people, and not purely for comedic relief. Loctite Glue had a diverse mix but were we laughing with them or at them?) I also enjoyed the realistic father-daughter relationship in Toyota Camery’s “My Bold Dad”.

That’s not to say that an ad is great just because it presents a more positive and realistic view of women. But great creative can’t afford to only be relevant to half its audience.


#LikeAGirl • The empowering “Like a Girl” spot from Always/Procter and Gamble got the hastag #LikeAGirl trending. Jet Blue quickly joined the conversation, tweeting a photo of two female pilots flying.


Fiat Super Bowl Ad• Fiat’s “Pill” was a well-played twist on that little blue pill that engaged both men and women, and strongly communicated the product benefit.



BMW• BMW’s “Newfangled” was humorous and charming, but next time Katie should drive and ask Bryant if he can twerk. (Women are responsible for 65% of new car purchases.)



Nationwide_Mindy• Nationwide Insurance has a gem in “Invisible Mindy”. Who hasn’t looked around the conference room and wondered if she was invisible? The execution was great but the line that tied it to Nationwide flew by so fast I almost missed it—Join the Nation that sees you as a priority. Nationwide. On your side.”

Coca Cola

• “Download Happiness” from Coca Cola admirably took on bullying and hate speech, changing mean messages into positive ones.


View all the ads here:

And tell me what you think…

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Las Vegas Sign: Go. Ahead in Health

Earlier this month, W2O Group invited 150 employees in our collective healthcare practice to the second annual “Go. Ahead In Health” summit in Las Vegas. Usually I stick to the idea of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but in cases like these, it needs to be shared.

This two-day event is evidence that W2O Group is committed to continuing to build a best-in-class, analytics-driven, integrated global offering serving a diverse set of clients from start-ups to world-leading brands in health.

Individuals from our “Long Hallway” shared exciting case studies of integrated work we created for clients. Our very own thought leaders presented industry insights and led informative panel discussions on trends in healthcare. It would have been impossible to leave the summit without a refreshed and more knowledgeable outlook on our business — but that wasn’t the best part.

Featured guest speakers and experts were hands down the highlight of the summit. They left our team enlightened and pondering what was next. Below are quick synopses with links for more information about two panels and our key note speaker that I am sure will also leave you with a sense of ahhh.

ePatient Advocates

ePatient AdvocatesWe know that patient advocacy has evolved. During this panel, we heard from real life patients turned advocates who have brought their journey online and created followings in social media.

The panel gave real-world perspectives on creating change and activism through social channels and explained how social activation of patient advocacy is changing the game and affording our clients with more opportunities to partner and socialize their messages as well.

Check out these ePatient Advocates and the causes they lead:
Sara Nicastro (@saraknic): diabetes patient advocate and founder of
Wendy Campbell (@bandedwendy): LAP-BAND patient and founder of WLS Success Matters
Adam Pick (@heart_valve): health valve patient and founder of

The Activated Social MD:

Understanding, engaging and activating physicians online is the premise for W2O Group’s MDigitalLife. At the summit we heard straight from two MDigitalLife doctors. They shared their experiences and journey becoming media entities, not that they considered themselves as media before. But W2O’s Greg Matthews’ new eBook Missing the Forest for the Trees, now has us looking at them as Media Influencers.

Activated Social MDBoth doctors agreed that Twitter has become not only a tool for news, but a critical piece of the puzzle in treating patients. Dr. Attai said it best: “Patients often don’t tell the whole story at the doctor visit – social media allows us to hear the patient’s voice.” She has found, when talking to breast cancer patients in-office, for one reason or another, patients hold back. On the flip side, when patients go online they open up to the world. Using social media allows her to get the whole picture on how patients in general are dealing with their diseases and can use that information when talking with her patients.

Both doctors are leaders in women’s health and are great examples of thought leaders growing through social media:
Deanna Attai, M.D. (@DrAttai): Breast Surgeon affiliated with UCLA Health Burbank Breast CareLinda Pourmassina, M.D. (@LindaP_MD): Internal Medicine Physician, Women’s Health Columnist with the Seattle Times and Co-Chair ACP Washington Chapter Women in Medicine Committee.

Keynote Speaker:
Hiding in Plain Sight: The Future of Healthcare
Joon Yun, M.D. and President, Palo Alto Investors

Have you ever thought of aging as a disease? I never have. Dr. Joon Yun presented a very intriguing argument and is leading the effort to recognize the science to hack the aging process.

Dr Joon YunDr. Yun is a renowned investor and Managing Partner and President of Palo Alto Investors, LLC, a hedge fund founded in 1989 with over $1 billion in assets under management. He is also the Benefactor of the Palo Alto Longevity Prize, a $1M Life Science competition that challenges teams from all over the world to “hack the code” that regulates our health and life span. The idea behind adaptive homeostatic capacity will make you think.

If you are ready to have your mind blown, check out the video at Palo Alto Longevity Prize. It will have you thinking about what is next and jumping to invest more in your 401k.

Another topic he discussed that will get you thinking is the idea of Second-hand Stress. Read his blog post and tell your chronically stressed-out co-workers to take a chill pill.

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In a recent article I proposed that the role of Investor Relations should, to a significant degree, focus on providing information that clarifies a company’s risk and uncertainty profile while not engaging in communication practices that could adversely alter that profile for investors. I concluded that this goes a long way towards supporting a fair valuation of a company’s securities. In follow-up, I’d now like to propose a method of implementing Investor Relations communications.

I’ve named the method “TACTful communications™.” TACTful communications are those that are Transparent, Accurate, Credible and Timely.

–   Transparent communications provide complete information about a company’s business (to the extent reasonably allowed by business and legal considerations), including its strategy, markets and products.

–   Accurate communications provide information that is correct and not subject to change or interpretation.

–   Credible communications are trustworthy, often borne out by reliability over time.

–   Timely communications relay information without undue delay.

These factors are consistent with established best practices. Communications encompassing all four elements, and communicated effectively in a public manner, will create an arena where investors will have equal access to information needed to make informed investment decisions.

Further, TACTful communications will support efforts to not only provide sufficient information to identify and handicap the company’s risks and uncertainties, but favorably impact its risk and uncertainty profile. For example, a company that is consistently timely in its communications increases an investor’s ability to quickly react, and generally make investment decisions based on current information. Or, consider a company that does not communicate accurately, but discloses information that ends up needing correction or clarification, befuddling the facts and confounding investment decisions. Further, where there are communications that are not credible, i.e. where the company sometimes does and does not execute consistent with its own guidance, uncertainty is created because there is no way to predict the reliability of the company’s statements.

Essentially, by communicating in a predictable manner a company can reduce the possibility of creating additional investment risk or uncertainty. These same communication practices will also support creation of management credibility, another important element that gets tallied into investment decisions. While other factors, including those external to the company such as price and economic climate, also influence an investment decision, TACTful communications—designed with an understanding around the need to address risk and uncertainty—create a basis upon which investors can more efficiently and fairly value a company.

David Walsey
David Walsey

The TACTful approach complements efforts to address risk and uncertainty, more broadly serves communication objectives, and is vital to effectively implementing Investor Relations best practices.

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Investor Relations word cloud

Risk and uncertainty are important concepts to understanding the purpose and role of Investor Relations. They are central when determining what information to communicate, and consequently important to determining a fair valuation of a company’s securities.

The National Investor Relations Institute, the leading professional organization for Investor Relations practitioners in the US, defines Investor Relations as follows:

Investor relations is a strategic management responsibility that integrates finance, communication, marketing and securities law compliance to enable the most effective two-way communication between a company, the financial community, and other constituencies, which ultimately contributes to a company’s securities achieving fair valuation. (Adopted by the NIRI Board of Directors, March 2003.)

In practice, the role of Investor Relations practitioners is often described as providing company information to the financial community to enable informed investment decisions. Or, the function of providing investors an accurate account of the company’s affairs. All with the goal of contributing to a fair valuation of the company, consistent with the above definition by NIRI.

But what type of information comprises effective two-way communications between a company and the financial community? What is an accurate account of the company’s affairs, what information enables informed decisions? To state the question more specifically: what type of information should Investor Relations communications share and what educational objectives should be served by such communications in order to support a fair valuation of the company?

This is a central question in Investor Relations and a crucial element of effective communications that deserves further thought. So, while the above overview of the Investor Relations function is accurate as far as it goes, it’s an incomplete explanation.

Some clarity on this topic is perhaps best introduced through a quote by Seth Klarman, a well-known U.S. value investor. He stated: “Risk is not inherent in an investment; it is always relative to the price paid. Uncertainty is not the same as risk. Indeed, when great uncertainty — such as in the fall of 2008 — drives securities prices to especially low levels, they often become less risky investments.”

Klarman’s statement incorporates two important points for the Investor Relations practitioner. First, that risk and uncertainty are distinct concepts. Second, neither risk nor uncertainty is inherently good or bad for any particular investment.

Despite Klarman’s statement and the insights it imparts, when it comes to investing in public companies, the words “risk” and “uncertainty” are perhaps not given their due attention as they relate to Investor Relations. In fact, they are sometimes thrown about interchangeably although, as noted, they hold different meanings. It’s important for Investor Relations, and communications with other stakeholders generally, to understand the two concepts.

The word “risk” is generally understood to refer to a quantifiable unpredictable event. It’s an event with measureable probabilities, like throwing a dice. “Uncertainty” is an event that is unpredictable and not quantifiable. As such, it is an event without measurable probability, like an event considered an act of God – such as the 2008 stock market fall noted by Klarman. While risk can be calculated and allowed for, “uncertainty” can only be taken into account, perhaps, by human instinct.

Risk and uncertainty are important concepts to Investor Relations because they are key factors investors consider in understanding the potential profit (or loss) of an investment decision – and even in how to structure an investment. An investor’s superior identification and understanding of a company’s risks and uncertainties, in fact, can differentiate a superior investment decision. Thus, knowing the events with measurable probabilities and the events with unknown probabilities is important. As is an appreciation for the possibility of unknown events with unknown probabilities.

Consequently, neglecting consideration of risk and uncertainty in understanding the purpose and role of Investor Relations is an error. In large part, the role of Investor Relations should be to focus on providing information that clarifies a company’s risk and uncertainty profile while not engaging in communication practices that could adversely alter the risk and uncertainty profile of a company, or perception thereof, to investors.


David Walsey
Author: David Walsey

This is an underlying central understanding to effective Investor Relations communications and in large part should inform what information is important to communicate to the financial community and how that information should be contextualized within communications best practices. Doing so will go a long way towards supporting a fair valuation of a company’s securities.

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David_Megan_NancyIt’s been an exciting month as BrewLife continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

We’re pleased to welcome David Walsey and Megan McCormick on the corporate communications side, as Managing Director and Account Manager respectively, and Nancy Hester as Executive Assistant to Brewlife president, Paulo Simas.

David will provide senior communications and investor relations counsel to BrewLife clients. He is well suited for the role with more than 15 years of experience leading communications functions for biopharmaceutical companies and 10 years as an attorney in private practice. David was most recently VP of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications at Optimer Pharmaceuticals.

Megan comes to us from Cytori Therapeutics, a global company focused on adult stem and regenerative cell therapies, where she was a Communications Specialist. Nancy brings skills honed at renowned enterprises like Novartis and Bayer, and will be located in our San Francisco headquarters.

BrewLife San Diego
BrewLife San Diego

Megan and David are lucky enough to be based in our brand new San Diego office at 888 Prospect Street. (It’s a stone’s throw from the water in La Jolla, in case you’d like a ‘business lunch’ at the beach.) This sunny outpost will strengthen the W2O Group’s presence in a market key to the growth of our health and technology businesses, and also reinforces BrewLife’s strong commitment to only open offices in cities with good tacos.

But wait, there’s more… If you linked directly to this post from social media, be sure to check out the rest of our revamped website. We’ve added robust case studies and more detail about our capabilities. It all just launched and still has that attractive new-site-smell. Please leave comments below to tell us what you like about it, what you don’t and what you have questions about.


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